Policy Updates

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Canada pledges another US$215 million for international COVID-19 relief

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Canada's Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and Canada's Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, have announced a commitment of CAD300 million (US$215 million) to support poorer countries in immediate need of humanitarian and development support, the Access to COVID-19 (ACT) Accelerator, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

This funding commitment was announced at Global Goal: Unite for Our Future – The Summit, a virtual fundraiser to support the most vulnerable people impacted by COVID-19 globally. 

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

European Investment Bank to loan CureVac US$82 million to produce COVID-19 vaccines

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and German vaccine developer, CureVac, have reached an agreement on an EU-guaranteed €75 million (US$82 million) loan for CureVac to scale up development and production of a coronavirus vaccine.

CureVac has stated that this loan could support the development of a billion doses of their innovative vaccine technology, which is based on messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules.
Press release - European Commission

UK development assistance budget to be cut in 2020

The current UK Secretary of State for International Development, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, confirmed to parliamentarians on July 6 that the UK development assistance budget will be cut in 2020 and most likely also in 2021. Trevelyan, speaking at a session of the parliamentary International Development Committee, noted that she could not confirm the exact figure of the cut, but that it could be as much as £2.0 billion (US$2.5 billion).

Trevelyan said the Department for International Development (DFID) is conducting an in-depth review of where these cuts should fall and that no final decisions have been made; however, even though no decisions have been taken, some sectors are already confirmed to be of higher priority: According to Trevelyan humanitarian work is at the "top of the list" followed by healthcare (including COVID-19 and preventable diseases). She also highlighted funding for girls’ education and climate change would be protected. It was confirmed that cuts could happen across the multilateral portfolio and could impact funding to the UK’s development finance institution, the CCD Group.

News article - Devex

Twitter - Foreign Affairs Committee

Video - UK Parliament

French NGOs call for drastic increase in ODA in response to COVID-19

Considering the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on poor countries — in Africa in particular — Coordination SUD, the French national umbrella organization of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), is calling on the French government to drastically increase its funding for development assistance.

Coordination SUD calculated that according to financial needs expressed by World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) alone, France should proportionally to its size, contribute as much as ‎€14.5 billion (US$15.9 billion) toward international development efforts.

Specifically, Coordination SUD is calling on the French government to:

  1. Increase the volume and the rate of the Financial Transaction Tax to mobilize additional funding for official development assistance (ODA);
  2. Increase its ODA as soon as the next 2020 budget law amendment to rapidly reach the 0.7% UN ODA to GNI target, a commitment to be renewed in the 2021 budget law and the forthcoming orientation and program bill on international development; and
  3. Mobilize the G20, Development Banks, and private lenders to relieve the debt burden of the most affected countries.

Press release - Coordination SUD (in French)

Recent analysis predicts shape of Australia's development programming in 2025

An analysis of Australia's current policy trends suggests that by 2025, Australia's main ODA recipients will be countries in the Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Australia's sectoral focus will likely center on health, education, and agriculture. Although there will be a continuing tension between pursuing short-term investments and longer-term country partnership programs, the analysis suggests that there will be an expansion of the use of local partners in Australian development programs.

The authors of this paper suggest that to effectively execute its development vision, Australia will need more senior staff in-country and a greater number of specialists and policy-oriented senior staff overall.

Working paper - Abt Associates

South Korea’s Foreign Minister consults civilian experts on global health cooperation

South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha held a meeting on July 3, 2020 with civilian experts focusing on South Korea’s international development cooperation strategy in the COVID-19 era, with a special emphasis on its global health cooperation.

Consisting of experts from development cooperation, global health, public administration, and public health from academia and civil society organizations, the civilian experts emphasized the following:

  • Preparing a whole-of-government and comprehensive masterplan for a longer-term response, particularly with COVID-19 expecting to persist over the mid- to long-term;
  • setting up a regional platform that takes into account partner countries’ different context and circumstances for COVID-19 response, rather than simply conveying South Korea’s experience;
  • actively pursuing the implementation of the SDGs in COVID-19 pandemic;
  • promoting the more constructive role of South Korea to improve global health governance;
  • and acknowledging the importance of open communication with the general public domestically.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Korean)

South Korea passes third COVID-19 supplementary budget, including increase of COVID-19 R&D budget

South Korea’s national assembly passed its third supplementary budget this year to fight COVID-19, amounting to KRW35.1 trillion (US$28.7 billion). Although the third extra budget mainly targets economic stabilization and job creation in South Korea, it also included additional budget of KRW0.2 trillion (US$163 million) allocated to research and development (R&D) and export of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. In particular, the Ministry of Health and Welfare will be provided KRW45 billion (US$37 million) for COVID-19 therapeutics R&D and KRW49 billion (US$40 million) for COVID-19 vaccine R&D.

News article – The Korea Herald

Press release – Ministry of Economy and Finance (in Korean)

UK provides additional humanitarian funding to Palestine and Syria

The UK government has confirmed that it will be providing £36 million (US$44 million) in additional funding for healthcare and education for Palestinians via the UN Relief and Works Agency.

The UK government has also pledged a further £300 million (US$369 million) to address the crisis in Syria, bringing its total support for this crisis to over £3.3 billion (US$4.1 billion) since 2012. The funding will provide life-saving support to Syrians affected by the on-going conflict and will focus on supporting vulnerable Syrians with education, healthcare, food, and economic recovery.

Press Release - UK Government (Palestine)

Press Release - UK Government (Syria)

EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa adopts US$120 million assistance package for North Africa COVID-19 response

The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) has adopted a €110 million (US$120 million) assistance package for protecting migrants, stabilizing local communities, and supporting the COVID-19 response in North Africa. The package will be aimed at strengthening immediate response capacity and health systems and mitigating the socioeconomic impacts of the crisis.

The funding is comprised of €80 million (US$87 million) in new funding and €30 million (US$33 million) in re-allocated, uncontracted funds. Geographically, the funding will target Tunisia and Libya, and other regional initiatives.
Press release - European Commission
EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa website - European Commission

Japan provides first installment of US$2 million to Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership

Japan has provided US$2 million to the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, a non-profit research and development organization that addresses antimicrobial resistance. Japan's contribution, covering the period of April 2020 to March 2021, is the first installment of a US$9 million pledge made at last year's World Health Summit in Berlin.

In addressing Japan's contribution, Japanese Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Kato Katsunobu highlighted the importance of a multisectoral approach to tackling antimicrobial resistance, and the immediate need for new antimicrobials.

Press release - Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership

Press release - Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare(in Japanese)

In US senate hearings, experts say best path forward is reform of, not departure from, WHO

Amid threats by President Trump to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard from experts on how to best respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although different views were expressed on details, the experts had a common message: work with the WHO towards reform.

Although a number of proposals for new entities to address global health security have been made, the experts warned against the creation of new structures that would work in parallel to WHO. Instead, the testimony stressed that reforming and improving the WHO was the best way forward. More funding is needed, they say, and WHO also needs stronger inspection rights so that it can better hold countries accountable. Internal US reforms are also needed, such a reinstating senior leadership in the National Security Council to coordinate global health security.  

News article - Devex

German Development Ministry makes support of partner countries in combatting COVID-19 key priority during its EU Council Presidency

On July 1, 2020, Germany assumed the Presidency of the Council of the EU, which the country will hold for the next six months. In addition to mitigating the political and socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Germany will focus on climate protection, digitalization, and the EU’s role in the world.

The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has announced its key priority topics during the Council Presidency, putting special emphasis on supporting low- and middle-income countries to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and on providing assistance in the countries’ social and ecological restoration. Among the BMZ’s priorities are:

  • The expansion of the EU’s ‘Team Europe’ approach to support partner countries in their COVID-19 response;
  • Adopting a joint EU-Africa strategy at the EU-AU summit;
  • Finalizing a new EU agreement with countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific ('Post-Cotonou Agreement');
  • Promoting greater corporate responsibility in global supply chains; and
  • Increasing the EU’s engagement in the fields of global health, food security, and water supply in line with the 'One Health' approach.

For the German Ministry of Health (BMG), the joint response to COVID-19 and the strengthening of the EU’s future capacity to respond to health crises are key priorities during the Council Presidency. The ministry will put special emphasis on:

  • Expanding Europe’s production capacities for medical products and devices;
  • Promoting the creation of a European health data space; and
  • Strengthening European public health organizations such as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Press release – BMG

Press release – BMZ (in German)

German Parliament adopts second supplementary budget worth US$26.2 billion

On July 1, 2020, the German Parliament approved a second supplementary budget for 2020 worth €24.0 billion (US$26.2 billion) to finance Germany’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as its economic stimulus package. The German government will, therefore, spend a total of €508.5 billion (US$554.6 billion) this year.

The supplementary budget includes budget increases for the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) amounting to €1.6 billion (US$1.7 billion) for 2020. BMZ’s budget will, thus, amount to €12.4 billion (US$13.6 billion) in 2020. Another €1.6 billion in budget increases will be added towards BMZ’s 2021 budget. Taken together this sum almost equals the €3.2 billion (US$3.4 billion) requested by Development Minister, Gerd Müller, to finance his Corona Response Package.

BMZ’s budget increases for 2020 encompass increased contributions to international organizations amounting to a total of €48 million (US$52 million). For example, Germany’s contribution to the ‘Global Partnership for Education Fonds’ (GPE) increased from €50 million (US$55 million) to €75 million (US$82 million) and its contribution to UNICEF will be raised by €20 million (US$22 million) to a total of €90 million (US$98 million) in 2020.

Through the second supplementary budget, the Foreign Office (AA) will receive €560 million (US$611 million) for ‘Humanitarian Assistance and Crisis Prevention’. The Ministry of Health (BMG) will receive an additional €22.8 billion (US$24.9 billion).

The Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will receive an additional €2.0 billion (US$2.2 billion), including €560 million (US$611 million) channeled to the budget line 'Health research and health economy'.

Press release – German Parliament (in German)

Press release – German government (in German)

Donor Tracker to host webinar on donors’ international COVID-19 response following Global Goal Summit pledges

On July 2, 2020, from 16:00-17:00 (CEST), Donor Tracker will host a second webinar on donor countries’ international COVID-19 responses following the Global Goal Summit. The Summit, held on June 27, raised US$6.9 billion for developing globally accessible COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments.

The Donor Tracker's expert team will analyze the Summit's outcomes and discuss implications for donor countries’ further international responses to the pandemic.

Registration - Zoom 

Australia’s Foreign Minister announces US$15 million for ASEAN-Australia health security and recovery initiatives

Australia’s Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, announced a commitment to assist the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the areas of health security, stability, and recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. As part of the A$23 million (US$15 million) package, Australia will fund a new health security initiative with the ASEAN to improve the prevention, detection, and mitigation of communicable diseases.

The minister also announced a new political-security partnership to improve stability and assist migrant worker communities, as well as a digital trade standards initiative to accelerate the digital transformation of the region as part of its economic recovery.

Press release - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Norway continues support for Syria and bordering countries

Norway will provide NOK1.8 billion (US$174 million) to continue supporting work towards political solutions to the Syria crisis. The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ine Eriksen Søreide, announced the commitments at the digital conference 'Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region' hosted by the European Union and United Nations.  

Norway has been one of the largest donors to the humanitarian efforts in Syria and its bordering countries. Since 2016, Norway has supported the region during times of crisis with more than NOK10 billion (US$ 991 million). Norway intends to continue as a consistent partner to mitigate suffering, protect vulnerable groups, and reduce state fragility. The humanitarian response focuses on protecting civilians and development workers, on the preservation of women's rights, education for Syrian children and youth, and the expansion of conflict prevention efforts.  

Press release – Norwegian Government  

New Inter-Institutional Coordination Platform will bring together major stakeholders in Italian global response to COVID-19

The Italian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Emanuela Del Re, has announced the first meeting of the Inter-Institutional Coordination Platform on the Italian Global Response to COVID-19.

The coordination platform will bring together the main Italian actors involved in the global fight against Covid-19. Delegates from the Ministries of Foreign affairs, Health, Treasury, Economic Development, University, and Research and Agriculture will take part, as well as members of the Italian investment bank Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, members of civil society organizations and universities, research institutions the National Health Institute, and representatives from the pharmaceutical industry.

Italy is interested in the global health impact of COVID-19, but also in the pandemic's socio-economic effects, including implications on the food systems of most vulnerable countries.

Interview- Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

Leaders of South Korea and EU reaffirm commitment to strengthening partnership to overcome COVID-19

During a virtual meeting held on June 30, 2020, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, President Charles Michel of the European Union, and President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission shared their commitment towards global cooperation and partnership in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. Through the leaders’ meeting held via video conference, the three leaders shared their concern and commitment on the following:

  • Overcoming COVID-19 and its challenges through global partnership and solidarity utilizing effective multilateral platforms including the G20 and the UN system;
  • Strengthening response capacities and information sharing via respective health authorities and centers for disease control;
  • Ensuring access to medical products and cooperation in R&D of infectious disease vaccines and therapeutics, including providing a future COVID-19 vaccine as a global common good;
  • Reaffirming their strong support for the WHO in combatting COVID-19 globally;
  • and emphasizing all parties’ commitment towards assisting partner countries to overcome challenges concerning COVID-19 through development assistance and support for partner countries’ healthcare systems.

Press release – European Union

Spain participates in G5 Sahel summit in Mauritania

Spain's Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, participated at the G5 Sahel Summit held on June 30, 2020, in Nouakchott, Mauritania, where he reiterated Spain’s strong commitment towards the Sahel region and underlined his government’s commitment to supporting people and institutions affected by terrorism and associated security crisis in the region. 

Since Mauritania is one of Spain’s 'priority partners' for development cooperation, Prime Minister Sánchez also met bilaterally with the president of Mauritania and extended the Spanish government's support for addressing the COVID19 crisis in the country, including through providing humanitarian and medical supplies to the Mauritanian authorities.

Press release – La Moncloa (in Spanish)

US Supreme Court upholds law requiring prostitution and sex trafficking policy for HIV/AIDS funding

In a major loss for HIV/AIDS advocates, the United States Supreme Court upheld a provision in a 2003 law that required foreign entities receiving US funds for HIV/AIDS programming to have an explicit policy opposing prostitution and sex trafficking.

Although a 2013 decision found the same provision as applied to US-based NGOs to be a violation of their First Amendment rights, the Supreme Court, found that foreign affiliates of US organizations did not have the same protections. The decision, U.S. Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International, was decided by 5-3 vote.

News article - SCOTUSblog